Map of Eritrea
UNICEF photo: Two children in Zoba Anseba visiting a health center receiving support by UNICEF. © UNICEF Eritrea/2013/Thompson Two children in Zoba Anseba visiting a health center receiving support by UNICEF.


Updated January 2014

In 2014, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition are admitted for treatment


women of child bearing age access improved quality maternity care


children access formal and non-formal education (25,000 nomadic children and 5,000 children in humanitarian situations)

2014 Requirements: US$15,800,000

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Total affected population: 1.2 million
Total affected children (under 18): 696,000

Total people to be reached in 2014: 850,000
Total children to be reached in 2014: 490,000

Eritrea is located in one of the driest parts of Africa. Hydro-climatic conditions bring recurrent droughts, particularly in the Southern Red Sea, Gashbarka and Anseba regions, and negatively impact the overall health, development and well-being of women and children. These frequent droughts, combined with declining aid, have led to severe food shortages that have worsened the malnutrition situation of children. The nutritional sentinel site surveillance conducted in 2013 showed an increase in acute malnutrition among children under 5 in all regions. For example, in Gashbaraka, the wasting rate reported in July 2013 was 22.7 per cent compared with 14.5 per cent a year earlier. The impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war continued to have implications in communities affected by war, while humanitarian mine action programmes in Eritrea grew weaker. Only 25 per cent of mine fields have been cleared, and the injury burden increased from 58,111 cases in 2011 to 69,755 cases in 2012, with the majority of injuries and fatalities reported among children and young people.1 In the education sector, 33.7 per cent of children between the ages of 7 and 14 – mainly from disadvantaged groups with nomadic lifestyles – are out of school (84,616 males and 99,685 females).2 There are huge regional disparities in sanitation coverage, with the national coverage rate at 52 per cent and rural sanitation coverage at 25 per cent. In the Southern Red Sea and Anseba regions, sanitation coverage is approximately 52 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.3 Access to safe drinking water also remains a significant challenge.

Humanitarian strategy

2014 programme targets


  • 14,000 children in humanitarian situations aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition admitted for treatment
  • 490,000 children in humanitarian situations aged 6 to 59 months that receive multiple micronutrient supplementation


  • 130,000 children immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases
  • 151,000 children under 5 with improved access to specialized neonatal health services
  • 114,000 women of child bearing age with access to improved quality maternity care


  • 10,000 people in humanitarian situations accessing water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 20,000 people in humanitarian situations with appropriate hygiene practices

Child protection

  • 14,000 children and young people provided with an integrated mine risk education program
  • 20 pilot child-friendly spaces in schools impacted by landmines and explosive remnants of war


  • 25,000 nomadic children accessing formal and non-formal education 
  • 5,000 children in humanitarian situations accessing formal and non-formal education

In the absence of a declared emergency state in Eritrea, humanitarian response has been merged into development programming. Priority interventions target the most vulnerable population groups and geographical areas, which are identified by the existing information systems. Sector coordination mechanisms are in place with the Government of Eritrea under the Strategic Partnerships Cooperation Framework (2013-2016), with UNICEF playing an active role in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition and protection. UNICEF coordinates directly with the Ministry of National Development and line ministries to plan and implement activities. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF responds to malnutrition by supporting facility- and community-based therapeutic and supplementary feeding, which targets severely and moderately malnourished children under 5. In the absence of World Food Programme (WFP) programmes in Eritrea, UNICEF also supports phased implementation of a blanket supplementary feeding programme on a national scale to prevent further deterioration of the nutritional status of children under 5 and pregnant and lactating mothers. To prevent child mortality from all causes, UNICEF provides vitamin A supplementation twice a year to children between 6 and 59 months. To maximize impacts on vulnerable populations, UNICEF will focus its mine risk education programme on regions impacted by landmines and explosive remnants of war, and WASH and nutrition programmes will focus on drought-prone rural communities with high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. In 2014, UNICEF will strengthen and scale up existing interventions.

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$12 million for 2013, and as of the end of October 2013, a total of US$1,574,726 or 13 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. With funding shortages as a key constraint, UNICEF’s response focused on delivering programmes while building capacity at the local level. UNICEF reached 75 per cent of its target for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), 42 per cent for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and 50 per cent for blanket feeding. Throughout the country, UNICEF supported a total of 212 community-based therapeutic feeding sites, 57 facility-based therapeutic feeding sites and 263 supplementary feeding sites. UNICEF provided training in all regions, to 41 health staff on essential and specialized neonatal care and to 58 health staff on life-saving skills. Thirty-two health facilities now have additional human resources to support the delivery of basic emergency obstetric care, and 232 health workers were trained on Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI). Four rural water supply systems are being developed in hard-to-reach rural communities and drought prone areas and will serve approximately 9,400 people upon completion. Fifty hygiene promoters from four regions undertook training on household water treatment and safe storage. UNICEF’s mine risk education interventions supported about 64,000 children and young people with increased knowledge and risk awareness and with child-friendly spaces in the three regions impacted by landmines.  Distribution of 1,000 first aid kits contributed to timely response to injuries in 800 schools. A technical partnership commenced with the University of South Africa and led to partnerships on the prevention of child injury, violence and disability. The shortfall in achievements in 2013 is largely attributed to limited funding and the late signing of the Country Programme (2013-2016) with the Government. This resulted in delays in the implementation of all programmes, particularly the education programme, which did not begin until the third quarter. In addition, some results were still unavailable during the preparation of this appeal, including from the rural water supply systems supported by UNICEF, which are still under construction, and from the National Immunization Days campaigns, which are planned for November and December 2013.

Results through 31 October 2013 unless noted

Funding requirements

In line with the country’s emergency situation and vulnerability, UNICEF is requesting US$15,800,000 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Eritrea in 2014. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing nutrition crisis and to provide critical WASH services to the population in need. Basic supplies for primary education are also urgently needed to uphold children’s right to education.

1 Reported in the 2012 Health Management Information System Report.
2 Performance of WASH is low because the cholera caseload was lower than expected, and emergency funding for other WASH issues (e.g. water supply and hygiene) was very limited.
3 Reported in the Latrine Coverage Survey, 2011
4 The three regions impacted by landmines are the Northern Red Sea, Gashbaraka and Anseba.